Rock the Attitude

The Loot:

The Costume:

$5.00 for the gothic cheerleader wig
$3.50 for the goth makeup (eyelashes, black nail polish, black lipgloss)
$4.00 skull tee-shirt
Handmade skull earrings and skull necklace, purchased using a gift certificate.
Fishnet tights, should have been returned as they had a hole in them but oops! her mother lost the receipt and then forgot and before she knew it, it was over 90 days.
Total cost was more than the ten dollars I was willing to pay but she rocked the costume.

Best Hallowe'en ever.

Hallowe'en mania

The Hallowe'en party was a day earlier this year as the kids have tomorrow off from school. I did not make monster and ghost cupcakes this year; instead I was asked to bring 2 peeled grapes. I bought a whole box of the best grapes I have ever bought in a rush from Safeway and drove like the wind to school, only to find that they were needed for the parade and not the party. The parade always precedes the party and the kids in one corner of the building stand up and file through each class. As the line ends, the last class that they paraded through joins the line. When the kids reach their own classroom again, they sit down so every class gets to see everyone else in the school.

The fifth graders moved their desks out of the way, made a path using room dividers and darkened the room as they awaited the first of the Hallowe'en ghouls. They scared the daylights out of the kindergartners who exited crying or saying they were not feeling very happy. Needless to say, the fifth graders were mighty thrilled that their ploy worked!

You want to know about the grapes? Well, I was supposed to take a box, too, and the kids who walked in were going to be dared to put their hands into the box. What would they feel? Tch! Not grapes; stay with the theme, please! Eyeballs! It didn't exactly work that way for several reasons: I was late, I had no box and the other kids were too scared already to even want to look at a fifth grader. I messed up but it didn't really matter or at least that is what I am telling myself.

The Hallowe'en punch

Yes, that green hand was rather gross. It was frozen and had gummy worms in it which made it look even worse.

Medha's costume this year was not as innovative as her shower costume was last year. She didn't plan ahead and put together this Funky Cat costume the night before with the accessories we had at home. She forgot to make a tail and I had to quickly cut off the sleeve of one of her black tees, stuff it with paper and take it with me to the party. One of the reasons I was late.

I thought this costume was pretty cool. But everyone else thought it was lame although they were polite enough not to say anything. There were Sumo wrestlers, boys dressed as girls in strappy dresses and high-heeled shoes, Darth Vaders, peanut butter and grape jelly cans - some homemade, others mostly store-bought. That was when she decided that she needed another costume for tomorrow. And, I shouldn't have but I played along.

Beading is what we're busy with right now. She had bought these skull beads a couple of weeks ago but was just so busy that she didn't have a chance to do anything with them. The picture's not that great but if you peer at thenecklace, you might find something interesting going on there. (Note to Pel: unless you want another RMT slammed on you, you might want to let the others take a shot at figuring it out. Cos this one I know you know!) We bought some leftover Hallowe'en stuff at 30% off from Target and the new costume is being put together. Keep your fingers crossed for her (and me) that this one works!

Tomorrow, we meet at a neighbor's for soup, after which the kids hit the streets begging for candy. It's going to be a warm Hallowe'en with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Yay! We will see costumes this year instead of outerwear!

Three Schoolbuses?

The Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah is said to be the size of three schoolbuses. Bee confirmed that today, too. My family says: Phooey!

I can hold it in my hand!

I can lean on it!

I'm an Indian! I will use it in my puja!

Now go to Bee's and check out some really great pictures of the three schoolbus-size rock that is not only awe-inspiring but is a statement of how Mother Nature Rules.

Not quite Diwali fare

The universe does not want me to make chivda. Not yet, anyway. On Sunday, the big packet of pohe turned out to be the wrong kind - thick instead of thin. The Indian store is closed on Monday and the news of Bri's passing came as such a shock that I was paralyzed into inaction. I lit a candle for Bri yesterday. I didn't light any diyas.

On Sunday night, I couldn't understand what was going on until I realized that the din in my head was cranberries calling out to me from the deep recesses of my refrigerator. A recipe for Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars in the latest issue of Cooking Light had caught my eye. However, the use of sour cream did not appeal to me. Also, I had fresh cranberries and I had no clue what rule of thumb to use for substitution. I figured if I left out sour cream, 2 cups of fresh berries would provide the moisture. I really don't know if my reasoning made sense but the bars turned out to be just right for us: tart and not too sweet. The original bars are meant to be not too sweet and not too tart.

Apparently, sour cream makes these bars almost cheesecake-like so I might give the original recipe a try some time later when I have recovered from the current overdose of sour cream. Many of my friends use it in everything: from sauces to raitas and frankly, I am sick of it. I also wanted to use my brown molasses but I didn't know quite how well the flavor would work with cranberries. I thought it worked well and might use only brown molasses in the filling the next time.

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

based on a recipe from Cooking Light's November issue

For the Crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate juice
  • Cooking spray

For the Filling:
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecan bits
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tbsp brown molasses
    1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Grease a 9x9in baking tray using cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon.
  5. Drizzle melted butter and juice over this mixture, stirring until it is completely moistened. The mixture will be crumbly.
  6. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture and press the rest into the bottom of your baking tray.
  7. In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pecans, granulated sugar, brown molasses, if using, all-purpose flour, vanilla extract and the beaten egg white. Stir until the cranberries are well coated and the brown molasses has been mixed well.
  8. Spread this cranberry mixture over your crust.
  9. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over this filling.

  10. Bake at 325F for 40 minutes or until edges are golden.
  11. If you can wait, cool on a wire rack.
These tart cranberry oatmeal bars are a treat with coffee or as a snack between meals. Medha is not completely sold on cranberries but she did say that she never thought oatmeal could taste so good!

  • I used pomegranate juice because that's what I had. I did not have orange juice or oranges at home. Therefore I did not use orange rind in the cranberry filling and quite frankly, I missed neither.
  • Since I used fresh cranberries, I stored these bars in the refrigerator. These bars have lasted a little longer because they are on a shelf higher than some people can reach. Unlike the cranberry-apple crisp.
  • If you try this recipe with my variations, then remember that my version is tart and less sweet. Ideal for us but not necessarily palatable for those with a sweet tooth. The bars taste less tart the next day.

Yesterday was Narak Chaturthi, the second day of Diwali.

Today is Laxmi Pujan, the third day of Diwali. This coming Sunday, we will be participating in a mass Laxmi Pujan at Balvihar, just like we did last year.

I think it is high time I made nankatai again.

Happy Diwali to you all!

Happy Diwali

Deepavali chya Shubechha!

A friend of mine sent this lovely verse in an email last year:

Pahila diva aaj lage dari
Sukhache kiran yei ghari
Purna howot tumchya sarva ichha
Tumha sarvanna deepavali chya hardik shubhechya!

Today is Dhanatroyadashi and as I look back, nothing much has changed since this day last year. I did eventually make sanzori but it took me almost a whole year to get to it. We lit a diya by the door and all the lights in the house were turned on. It is getting close to the time to turn them off again and then make chivda, which I had perfected last year.

I hope your Diwali is as wonderful as mine has been and will be! Happy Diwali to you, your friends and your families!

The Concept Rocks

Cenk, Lara, Sabra, Nika and Nina think the Concept rocks! My Steamy Kettle won the first place in SUPERCLICK 2008: Concept.

Thank you all very much!

I am totally overwhelmed and absolutely speechless because there were 108 amazing entries in all. I feel honored. The hour I spent in the middle of the night with a worker's light focused on this whistling kettle was well worth it! My husband wrote me off as a total nutcase while the next morning, Medha wondered why she had had persistent dreams of a train on a railroad track.

Join me, once again, in saying: Woo hoo!

You know the drill...

Passing the Buck(wheat)

I knew I should have banned him from attempting an answer but I didn't. And answer it correctly, he did. These are buckwheat berries.

And I think all of you will agree that there should be a prize! Right? There's just one problem: the prize or award always goes to the blogger. Not my prize. In this case, the real prize goes to all of you, readers of Elaichi et Cetera because I am actually passing the buck with the buckwheat! Pel is going to have to

  1. find something stranger than strange and,
  2. post it on his blog within the next two weeks.
  3. The quiz remains open for at least 1 day and at the most 2 days.
  4. The person who guesses it correctly gets the torch and is the next host for Riddle Me This.
  5. If the person who guesses correctly is the previous host, then that person will get to pick someone to pass the buck to from all those who made a guess. (The lucky person can be a previous host, just not the host who passed it on to you.)
  6. And so on.
  7. Please use the fabulous logo, designed by yours truly:

    and link back to the host who passed the baton on to you.
  8. Please do your best to keep this alive. Just think of how much fun it will be!

I haven't forgotten you, Anita. Since the triangular seeds were such a dead giveaway, you too, my dear, have been awarded with the same prize.

Now, dear readers, do you see why this is really a prize for you? Two of my your favorite bloggers will be posting again within a week! Isn't this the most ingenuous of all schemes?!

Riddle Me This

Yes, it has come to that. A quiz. But it should be easy for you know-it-alls and you smart image searchers since I cannot confuse you with tricks like these.

So, who am I?

Here's another view of me and my clan.

Is there a prize? Not for you there isn't. But remember my steaming kettle?

Cenk, Lara, Sabra, Nika and Nina seem to like it steamy, too! My pic won the first place in SUPERCLICK 2008: Spectra. Thanks to all the judges! Needless to say, I think you have excellent taste!

Join me in saying: Woo hoo!

Now go on over to Jugalbandi - but don't forget to come back here, we're in the middle of a quiz - and see who else made the top 10 for Spectra and rocked the first year of CLICK. Kudos to Bee and Jai for making CLICK such a fun event and also for putting up with my rubbish in general!

Bring in the Flavor of Fall

There are some days when you wake up knowing that it's going to be a good day.

The sun is shining in a blue sky and the rural landscape seems to come alive. When the ramshackle barns that dot the farmland seem to beckon, almost like they will finally tell you all they have seen.

A day when the horses frolic in the grasslands slowly turning to hay.

This is one of those days that I wish I could ride. With the sun shining down on me and the wind in my hair, I would be the one flying. Instead, I stood there and dreamed.

You also know that just as you want to bathe in the colors of the changing season, you also want to do your best to bring it home.

Granny Smith apples and fresh cranberries. The warm comforting smell of buttery goodness of a crumble.

We could quibble about crumble versus crisp and crisp might claim victory but the real winner is you; for you captured the essence of fall.

Cranberry-apple crisp à la mode. Just perfect.

So perfect that I thought I would have at least two smiling neighbors. But only one family was that lucky.

And you should be so lucky, too. The recipe is over at Jen's. Make it.

Food Safety

I am - actually, all three of us are - recovering from a case of food poisoning. This was the first time that all three of us were sick at the same time. It was also the first time that we were sick with a hoard of other people who shared the same symptoms: gripes, followed by diarrhea.

It wasn't until we had made it through a particularly bad night that we found out what had caused it. Until then, we wondered whether it could have been the lemonade we bought from those adorable little girls on our ride home. No! It must have been the bakarvadi that we demolished in one sitting. Or was it the mock bhel I made by mixing chopped onions doused in lemon juice, with Khatta Meetha, Bhujia Sev and Dal Biji. That Dal Biji is potent enough to give us acid reflux if we eat more than a couple of spoonfuls. Or was it the dinner we were eating - kababs and saag paneer - when it struck? It couldn't have been dinner as we were still in the process of ingesting it. When the "me too" emails started trickling in the next morning, we found out that misery does indeed have a lot of company.

We still don't know which particular dish at the community gathering caused so many of us to take ill. Some people have suggested that perhaps it was some of the store-bought dairy products that were used that may have been contaminated. Others pointed fingers at the wheat tortillas from the Mexican store. Usually when such things occur, meat is under most suspicion but this was a completely vegetarian meal.

A series of phone calls to friends around the country led me to a horrifying discovery: food safety is taken with a pinch of salt. One word for those who do: DON'T.

Do not store food in your garage.
When people cook for potlucks or for large community gatherings, they find that they don't have enough room in their refrigerator to store the food. Many times the quantity is so large that the food is cooked the day before. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is refrigerated promptly. A garage is not a refrigerator, especially not in fall. Food must be refrigerated in a controlled environment at 40F or below.

Do not handle cooked food with your bare hands.
It is a common practice to scoop the last of the rice or pulao from a pot with bare hands when transferring to a container or even to a serving dish. Please! Even if you wash your hands, you run the risk of transferring bacteria and germs to cooked food which will not be heated to a high enough temperature again. Use a spoon. The same holds for the grains of rice that remain stuck to the serving spoon. Use another spoon. When it comes to the last of dals and curries, too, don't use your bare hands. If you must scrape off every last bit, use a spatula.

Chutneys, especially the cilantro-ginger-lemon kind, are not cooked after they have their fun in the blender. Use a spoon or spatula.

Handling food is the easiest way to transfer illnesses to others. You may be a carrier of a self-limiting GI virus and you may, unknowingly, give it as a parting gift to everyone who eats the food you bring to the party. Just don't do it.

Do not leave food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
In summer or on hot days, the outer limit is one hour.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
If you are going to be carrying hot food to where the large gathering is at, invest in an insulated carrier to keep the food hot. Otherwise, carry it in a cooler on ice or frozen gel ice packs. When you reheat it, bring dals and curries to a boil.

Wash your hands and sanitize them before serving food at a gathering.

Use serving spoons or other serving utensils.
Do not serve with your bare hands even if you followed the previous tip! Use food service gloves, if possible.

Ensure that the food, plates, cutlery and cups are covered until they are used.
Keep food covered and watch for flies. Ensure that the serving tables are far from open trash cans. If you must touch the unused plates, cups or cutlery, do so in an area where no food will be placed.

Other good stuff:

  1. Do not cross-contaminate.
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and in hot water.
  3. If you're sick, opt out of cooking for your gathering. Believe me, your friends would rather go hungry than contract your illness.
  4. Tie your hair back or wear those goofy hair nets.
  5. Wash your ingredients well. Even fruits that have a thick outer skin like bananas, lemons and oranges.
  6. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, in the microwave or under cold running water.
  7. Do not use a damp smelly sponge to wash your dishes. Wash your sponge and your dish scrub in the upper rack of your dishwasher every couple of days. Or sanitize your sponge - taking the required precaution - in your microwave.

More food safety tips from:
Consumers Union Food Safety Tips
Safety tips for meat, poultry and fish
Gateway to Food Safety Info from the US Government
US FDA's Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

Remaining hydrated is the key to recovery from food poisoning. If diarrhea does not stop, consider taking over-the-counter medication like Imodium or calling your doctor. Never take a chance with young children - always call your doctor if diarrhea persists. If vomitting is one of the symptoms, then that makes hydration even more difficult. In such cases, it makes more sense to suck on ice chips or to drink only a couple of spoonfuls, at a time, of fluids like Gatorade or apple juice or even plain water. I am not a doctor so always call your physician or follow your instincts and go to the ER if you have to.

Do not take food safety lightly. The consequences of your negligence or lack of awareness could send someone to hospital.

Postcard from Louisville

This is Louisville to me. Clear skies, mountains, outdoor activity, and a deep sense of calm and peace.

I'm entering this in Aimee's October Greeblepix Contest where she's giving away $250 in Photo Rentals to a lucky winner!

Aimee is yet another cool blogger from Denver. The deadline for the October contest is 10pm MT October 21, 2008. Go do it!

Join me on a bike ride?

Today we rode our bikes to the biweekly cultural gathering for Indian kids at the Boulder Balvihar, based loosely on the principles of Chinmaya Mission's Bala Vihar. Currently the kids are busy preparing for their Diwali plays and Medha told me that in one part of her play, the kids are going to rap. I'm not really sure what that is all about but I guess I will find out in another two weeks!

It was yet another perfect fall day, sunny and lightly breezy. The breeze always seemed to blow along with me, bringing with it a tide of leaves as company. The ride to the elementary school where Balvihar is held was far more beautiful than the ride back. Funny how the same trail can unleash its magic depending on which direction you travel. It didn't occur to me until I was about halfway through on the ride back that I could record the ride.

It's a little bumpy and a little too long and now very pixelated - thank you, Google Video - but won't you join me anyway?!

Pic of the Week

How many of you watched the debate on Wednesday and rolled your eyes at this?

Image courtesy Reuters, via Yahoo!

See Flickrite d.rex's take on this same pic. And the wave that has been unleashed!

Maybe it's high time it was put away from such flagrant public display!


I am no artist. That is for sure. I must also admit that the blank canvas was very intimidating. If someone else had put paint to it before me, I think I would have been fine. I walked around it, I touched it, I pondered on it but I just could not bring myself to pick up a paintbrush. After a few hours of this, I decided to skip the paintbrush and use my fingers instead. I have never done finger-painting before and it is very liberating! I was not necessarily impressed or convinced with the results but my worst and best critic gave me a thumbs up, so this is it!

I met Jen and Kitt, two totally awesome women, for lunch today and to hand over the Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece to one of them. They dueled with swords and words while I referreed and Jen must have won because she went home with it. The masterpiece is now up in the mountains - in Nederland, Colorado, also home to the Frozen Dead Guy. Seriously, it is.

So yeah, we ate at The Kitchen. If you missed Jen's post on the Community Night at The Kitchen, you missed a great deal more than a review of a truly green restaurant in downtown Boulder. Go read Jen's post as she explains how she takes pictures in a restaurant.

Kitt came with the cutest pumpkin candles for Jen and I

Once our food arrived, we each pulled out our cameras and moved our plates to the center of the table because after all, that is the most natural thing to do. The light was not great even though we chose the better of the two tables that were offered to us. You will, no doubt, see better pictures from Jen but here are some of my attempts. I forgot to adjust my WB and I can't shoot RAW because my computer has been freezing up when I try to import pics in the RAW format. And my hand was not particularly steady today.

The yummy fare at The Kitchen, Pearl Street, Boulder

Bloggers in action

I had a delicious grilled veggie sandwich with layers of grilled eggplant, squash and mozarella cheese with the best potato salad I have ever eaten. Jen had the crab salad with avocado and lime and Kitt had terrine with dijon, cornichons & toast. The food definitely did not disappoint! I carried half my sandwich home as I am trying to train my stomach to learn that I do not need to feel stuffed in order for my mind to understand that I am no longer hungry. Kitt said that the remaining half would probably be good for another meal for me; it sure was, but not for me. It was wolfed down as soon as I got home and received a second seal of approval from my husband! We shared a Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

The Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece will wend its way to Denver from Nederland, with a brief stop at Seriously Wonderful, once we figure out the logistics. I am still waiting for a couple more bloggers to respond, after which I will try to map out the best possible route to send the canvas on its way.

So woohoo! It's on its way!

Basking in the Sun

This is probably the last of the fall colors we will get to see around here. The gorgeous warming sunshine and the Colorado blue skies begged to be enjoyed in their full fall glory.

The response to The Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece has been phenomenal! You folks are a grand set of people!

To all those who want to play with paint on the traveling canvas, please send me your mailing address if you haven't already. My email address is polarmate at gmail dot com. The first hand-off is tomorrow when I meet Jen and Kitt for lunch in downtown Boulder! Woo hoo!!

The Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece

It's kind of tough to come up with something to write about every single day. I wish my life and my thoughts were so interesting that I could! Instead, I indulged in some deep meditative brainstorming - yeah, I slept - and came up with a very creative idea that I copied from this Flickr group.

I bought a canvas that is 11x14" in size. I am going to put my mark on it and then I am going to send it out to a NaBloWriMoer who is willing to be next. I'd like to ensure that this collaborative piece of art does not end up with a large carbon footprint so routing is going to be important. Since I am in Colorado, I'd prefer that it did the tour of Colorado first before heading out of the state. Shipping within the US could be about $10 or more, based on the description of the Flickr group. There is one NaBloWriMoer who is not in the USA, and unless someone is willing to mail this package at international rates, I'm afraid that Nags may not be able to put her mark on this Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece.

These are the NaBloWriMo bloggers with their locations:

  1. Indian Food Rocks - Louisville, CO
  2. Culinary Colorado - Boulder, CO
  3. Use Real Butter - Nederland, CO
  4. groovygrrl - Denver, CO
  5. The Kittalog - Denver, CO
  6. Digging In - Denver, CO
  7. Conch-to-be - Denver, CO
  8. Aaron Delay - Denver, CO
  9. Seriously Wonderful - Denver, CO
  10. Fun Climbs Around the World - Silverthorne, CO
  11. Jugalbandi - Boise, Idaho
  12. Nags of a Similar Ilk - CA
  13. I'm Not Hannah - GA
  14. Thistle Dew Farm - Knoxville, TN
  15. Akshayapatram - OH (Priya's included in this list even though she's not on the official list.)
  16. Mimi On The Move - Brooklyn, NY
  17. Damn Yankee, Vermont - VT
  18. Enjoy Indian Food - US
  19. Siri's Corner - US
  20. Straight From Hel - US
  21. Here it is!!! - TX
  22. Cooking and Me - Singapore
Please do not feel you have to participate just because you are doing NaBloWriMo and your blog is on this list. But it would be great if you did!

Some guidelines:
  1. Use oil paints, acrylic paints or even a Sharpie.
  2. Doodle, paint, write. Just remember to leave some space for those on the list after you!
  3. Let the paint dry and send it out to the next person on the list as soon as possible - like that very day or the next day. I'll create a document on Google Docs and share it with all of those who wish to participate.
  4. No nudity or profanity allowed. Any art that is family and kid-friendly is welcome.
  5. Own it when it is with you and make it colorful.
  6. Take a picture of it, a self-portrait if you wish, before you send it on to the next person on the list. Post this picture on your blog. See? I am giving you fodder for a post! If you're creative, you could have at least two posts from it!
  7. There's no need for link love but that, too, is always welcome. Link to this post or to the post of the blogger who sent it to you and to the blogger you will send it to.
  8. Please do not disclose email addresses and snail mail addresses that you may be privy to because of this travelin masterpiece, to the world or the general public without the explicit permission of the person concerned.
  9. Most of all, have fun!

Be aware that this may go well into November, long after NaBloWriMo is over. Once everyone has had their chance to collaborate on this traveling masterpiece of art, we will pick a random number and that person can have the painting! How does that sound?

It makes most sense for me to mail it to Jen Yu or to Claire Walter, if they are keen on joining in, and then have it go to Denver as there are so many NaBloWriMoers there. Suggestions are welcome!

If you read this before you hear from me either via a comment on your blog or by email, please write to me at polarmate at gmail dot com letting me know if you are in or out. If you are in, please include your mailing address. I'd like to mail this out tomorrow or latest by Friday morning.

I'm hoping you will like this idea! Any takers?

For non-NaBloWriMoers: sorry to leave you out but you can do what you do anyway: cheer us on!


Have you ever had a so-called interior decorator step into your home and shake your hand gravely with a look of "Oh you poor thing! This is your home?" In most cases, I would have thrown her out almost immediately, free estimate or not, but I was not buying from her. If she really was an accomplished interior designer, what was she doing measuring blinds and taking orders for Costco?

Cream Caress, 25% mohair yarn. For a scarf for a friend.

She looked me up and down and brushed the lapels of her jacket to draw attention to her clothes. Me? I had struggled to stuff myself into my jeans when I had heard her car pull up. I had brushed my teeth but I am not sure the hairbrush had had a close encounter with my hair yet. But, you know, this is Boulder. Millionaires and hippies abound; and the homeless guy with the cardboard sign on the Table Mesa exit off Boulder Turnpike is probably better dressed than most of them. I am neither but we can pretend.

She went clomp clomp all over my house with her thick ankles and fat feet that were pouring out of her high heeled shoes, insisting on giving me a quote for windows I wasn't interested in. I think she just wanted to see the rest of the house. She insisted on calling my living room 'the fam-i-ly room.' I corrected her but she still put it in the order as the family room. I don't have a formal living room or a formal dining room, for that matter. I wanted it that way because I think those two rooms, in particular, are a huge waste of real estate. They would need to be adorned with expensive furniture that we would hardly ever use.

The Hunter-Douglas sale was upto $100 off per window. She offered me only $25. The blinds that had $100 off per window were too expensive, she said in a condescending tone. I was very close to asking her to leave but Costco rates were far too attractive and the end of the sale a little too close.

The yarn has a lovely feel to it. It even has a shine.
It is not, however, of a consistent thickness
making my knitting look uneven.
Still there is a lovely charm to it. Medha does not agree.

A ridiculously high quote for our bedroom window made my husband finally agree to try out cordless Redishades that were selling at Costco, again, for $29.99. They aren't the greatest but they are a lot better than what we were living with currently. I did however almost bust an artery when I saw my husband cutting them to size with my best and most expensive knife. It was a gift from a dear friend who had made a sheath of cardboard held together by duct tape so that I could store it in a drawer and not risk slicing my fingers every time I reached in for something else. He figured that since it had been put away thus and he had never seen me use it, it was fair game to be used as a tool. If you've been a reader of this blog for a while. you might know that this is one of my pet peeves.

The pattern is called Wisp and is the most delicate pattern
I have ever knitted. I should have used larger needles than US8
because this looks nothing like the pattern!
Medha feels it looks untidy.

Madam Interior Decorator arrived, after much back and forth, to finally take the order. She had that look of abject pity on her face again because I had whittled down the order to the absolute essentials. I had also let go of the dream of having a remote for the blinds in my kitchen. Homes in the US are not made for those petite in stature and just like I cannot comfortably reach beyond the first shelf of my cabinets, I cannot reach the wand or the string for my kitchen blinds. My husband had installed an extra long wand to which was attached the cover of a pen into which was hooked a small Christmas ornament. I tucked this through my knife block, making sure that the knives kept it in place. I could only tilt the blinds. If I needed to pull them up, I had to get onto a stool to reach for the string. And let's just not talk about opening the window. I had dreams of using a remote... but never mind.

She showed her impatience by tapping her ugly nails on my beautiful smoked glass dining table. I know that many women spend a lot of time on their nails but I'm sorry I find those fake nails rather repulsive. They remind me of claws. And, claws should be on animals. The continued tapping of her nails as I gave my credit card details to the clerk at Hunter Douglas over the phone began to annoy me. I usually have a very thick skin but her general demeanor and attitude had started grating on my nerves.

As she left, I told her that it must be a pain to carry that around everywhere. Oh! I'm used to it, she said, lifting her heavy portfolio bag in acknowledgement. I just looked pointedly at her extra large hips, straightened my trousers around my own, smiled and said: Oh, I wasn't talking about that. Good bye!

I have been agonizing over it, not knowing what to do next.
I need to complete it and have it in the mail by October 31.

She may have the last laugh though. The last date for mailing in the damned rebate forms was October 13. I thought it was tomorrow. I proved once again that I am stupid and that rebates are for better people than me.

So what do you think I should do? Frog it?

Dal Matters: Masoor Dal for Rose

Her name may be Rose; she looks anything but...

This and other similar snide comments were whispered by visiting relatives and guests alike when they saw our maid, Rose. She was a tribal girl, an Adivasi, who had come to Bombay in search of a better life. She had some basic education so she could read and write in both English and Hindi, and she could count, too. She and her sister had dropped out of school because getting there took them several hours, as did getting back. They lived in a hut with a thatched roof in a remote area of Bihar and had to walk several miles for water on a daily basis. They had no electricity. Every year, she would go home for about a month, to take some of her earnings back to her family. The journey itself was long: several days by train, followed by several days by bus and about a day of walking. Every time she came back, she had lost a fair amount of weight from both the journey as well as the harsh conditions in which the rest of her family coexisted. We were like two lionesses - my sister and I - with nails drawn and teeth bared, when it was assumed that it was perfectly alright to snicker about her.

Rose was an excellent cook. She taught us many of her recipes, just as she learned many from us. The one that has stayed with me is her Masoor Dal. It is simple, it cooks quickly and it can be used copiously to drown rice in a large bowl and consumed in absolute bliss. Here is my adaptation of Rose's Masoor Dal.

Masoor Dal

  • 2 cups uncooked masoor dal, washed and drained (hulled split red lentils)
  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida
  • 10-15 whole black peppercorns**see notes
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 beefsteak tomato (optional), sliced into 8 wedges
  • 6 cups water
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in the pan of your pressure cooker.
  2. Add mustard seeds and when they pop, add asafetida.
  3. Add whole black peppercorn - careful now, as they have a tendency to pop right out of the pan and into your face.
  4. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the tomato wedges.
  5. Add masoor dal, water and salt. Stir well.
  6. Cook under pressure until the dal cooks, taking care to ensure that it does not burn. The time and method varies depending on the type of pressure cooker. I usually cook it under pressure on medium-high and after the first 'whistle', I turn the heat down to low and let it cook for another 20-25 minutes.
  7. Allow the pressure cooker to cool and open it only when it is safe.
  8. Add lemon juice, mix well and serve over steaming hot rice.

  • Rose's original recipe called for a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black peppercorns over the dal just before serving. I prefer to add whole black peppercorn because it works for all of us. Those who can't deal with the intense flavor of black pepper can pick out the whole peppercorns. Those who need the punch can just munch on them.
  • This dal is meant to be sour. However, you can add less lemon juice, if you wish.
  • You could add chopped cilantro, too. I don't because this is my go-to dal when I am out of fresh green chillies and cilantro. You don't even need dried red chillies. You could add them if you wish, but why bother pulling out the cutting board? I chop my tomato and lemon right over the pan. Enjoy simple flavors with very little clean-up.
  • I don't have a picture of the finished dal. I might update this post later with a pic and do a Priya on you.

The funny thing is that no matter what they called her, everyone agreed that Rose had magic in her hands. Even funnier is that her real name was not Rose. She was Ruth.

(I know the ending does not make much sense. But that is why I am not a famous author that all of you are clamoring to meet. It is why I write a blog.)

Déjà vu

It's not uncommon for us to see our first snow in September. The first real snowstorm at our altitude is usually in October. It usually wreaks havoc as most of our trees have not lost their leaves yet. And from the looks of it, this October is going to be no different. Last week was typical of fall in the Front Range of the Rockies but it was extra cold for us, as both my patio door and entry door were being stained. That meant that both doors were off their hinges or open all day, sometimes late into the night as the stain took longer to dry in day-time temps that averaged in the mid-40s. Brrrr!

The doors are on now, weather stripping included. But look at the temp in the house during the day!

When I complained, this was the result:

Where do you want it? he asked.
Where? Where?! Everywhere I go! That's where! Can't you see how cold I am?!

I will have the last laugh, however. You see, I suffer the most when the season changes but I get acclimatized rather quickly. Unlike the wearer of those disgusting chappals. Ha! He suffers when it gets cold and stays cold - for months. Hawaii would have been a better place to relocate to, he rues every year without fail.

So yeah, it's been a day of déjà vu.